"In addition to getting the first shot, (being the Leader) made you responsible for the success or failure of the action. Like, in strafing. Everyone knows that if you stick around long enough, someone is going to get clobbered. So, get in, get it done and get the hell out. I never lost an aircraft in my flight or section. Mostly luck? But I damned well tried to make (that luck) happen."
Don is one of those guys given the gift of gab and a sharp mind. This whole blog could be filled with his anecdotes and observations on life. But one of Don's best quotes came out of a discussion on the role fear plays in decision making (we were talking about business, not airplanes). "No plan survives the first thirty seconds of combat." He stated. "The best you can do is just be damned good at what you do before you show up."
Can't argue with that.
"Little One III" is the succession of a number of airplanes, starting with a razorback P-47 and ending with the P-51 shown, named after his wife Francis. She is indeed, "little" at barely 5' tall. Don's no physical giant either, towering over her by a handful of inches. But I guess what'd be a liability on a basketball court wasn't anything at all in the cockpit of a P-51.
Don ended the war with over 13 confirmed aerial victories and one of the top aces of the 8th Air Force.